Before I go on with my post, I just want to let everyone know that the time difference between us has changed due to daylight saving’s time being over. If you are in the EST time zone, I am now 14 hours ahead of you. The easiest way to figure out what time it is here in South Korea is to look at the time there, add 2 hours, then change the “a.m.” to “p.m.” or vice versa.
And now, back to the show….
Like the title implies, I am really starting to feel like this apartment at GEV is my home. I bought a few more things today to help keep my things organized. Somehow, being able to put your clothes in a drawer instead of piling them on the floor helps a lot!
I am happy to say that I had a good weekend! Friday afternoon meetings were a bore, as usual, but after work I went to dinner with some of my colleagues as a “going away dinner” for our one colleague who is moving to Taiwan on Tuesday. I don’t know him or the others as well, except for Caleb, so it was really great to spend time with them and get to know them better. I really like everyone here a lot! There are a couple of people I steer clear of if I can, but in general, there are some wonderful people at GEV. I’m going to make an effort to hang out with different people instead of being so clique-ish with the newbies. (Speaking of ‘newbies,’ I think we are getting some fresh newbies tomorrow… which means, we will no longer be “the newbies.”) Can you believe I have been in South Korea for a month already?! I can hardly believe it myself.
This weekend is what we could call a “normal” weekend at GEV. Let me explain: two weekends ago (my first work weekend), we were put in a room for 8 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday and told to create new lessons. Last weekend was the Halloween event, which you read about previously. So, this weekend we had actual classes, and apparently, that is what a typical weekend is like. We had 3 groups of middle schoolers (but the classes were much smaller than what we get during the week for OWP) and another group of 3 families. The work load is also lighter on weekends in terms of teaching; there are fewer teaching hours and more devo time. The one group I had on Saturday was made up of 12 girls from 3 different middle schools, and WOW was their English good! Not only could they respond to my questions in complete sentences (and with hardly any accent), they surprised me by actually having a CONVERSATION with me after the lesson was over! We discussed Korea, Korean food, school, music, and traveling. This wasn’t me just asking them questions – this was them initiating conversation with me, asking ME questions, and giving intelligent responses to what I said. I was blown away! Not because I didn’t think they could be that good, but because their English ability was so much higher than any other group I’ve worked with so far and I just wasn’t expecting that at all. It’s nice having a small group because discipline isn’t really an issue, but what REALLY helps the class go smoothly is when students understand everything that you’re saying – they don’t get bored, frustrated, or lose interest. What a difference! I really, really enjoyed working with that particular class. It was such a great note on which to end my day. 🙂
Sunday (today) was a bit different. Sundays will always be short days with the students and families since they leave before lunch time (they stay overnight). However, it felt like a MUCH longer day than Saturday. First of all, I gave up my devo in the morning to help my colleague with the cooking class (she has never done a cooking class before and doesn’t know anything about the lesson or where things are, and I knew she was scared to do it by herself). She had the families and even though I gave up my free time to help her, it was neat to work with families instead of just groups of kids because it was a different dynamic and I hadn’t experienced it before. I liked it! The kids are generally pretty young, yet well behaved because they’re with their parents. It was just really different, and I enjoyed it a lot. What I didn’t enjoy was the next teacher coming in to use the room after us getting incredibly upset over the fact that we had opened up HER supply closet. (She works for ODP – a different program – which uses their own supplies instead of sharing with weekend programs.) She was so upset, in fact, that after yelling at us, she sent an email to the Head Teachers asking them to tell us not to go into their stuff. Wow.
The next class wasn’t really a class, it was the “closing ceremony,” which differs quite a bit from what we do with OWP. Basically, we just took the families into a classroom for 30 minutes for them to fill out a survey answering questions about their experience at GEV. Then, we presented them with certificates and gave candy to the kids. This is where the next fun began: every one of the certificates had spelling errors on them (which shouldn’t be – and really isn’t – a big deal in Korea, considering the Head Teachers have to translate all of the students’ names from Korean into English and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to spell things) but the parents insisted the names were spelled incorrectly, and I then got to run around GEV to track down one of the Head Teachers in order to have them fix the spelling and re-print the certificates. This in itself took 15 minutes because though I am swift on my feet, I could not find anyone anywhere! I finally did, just as I was about to give up, and I had to go up to his office then run down to the printer (which is in the next building… nope, that doesn’t make sense to me either), where I discovered that one of the certificates had printed on a piece of paper that was folded, and came out all distorted. Then, I got to run back up to his office and ask him to re-print the one that didn’t print properly, run back down to the printer, then run off to the hotels and catch the families before they left. I managed to do all of that, but it was stressful and I didn’t enjoy that part at all.
After lunch, for the rest of the afternoon, was “development” time. We worked on lessons for VIP (the month-long program coming up in December-January) as well as some individual lessons to be piloted on weekends and maybe eventually incorporated into OWP. It was good because we had more specific things to work on this time and I sort of took charge and delegated different lesson topics to everyone, so we all had things to work on individually (which I find MUCH easier and more satisfying than 6 people trying to develop one lesson together). While we were doing that, we all were hanging out and joking around, and it really was a lot of fun. All in all, despite Sunday morning, it was a great weekend!
After work today, I went with Rene, Zaaid, and Tim to the big Emart in Paju. We got dinner there (I went for the dolsot bibimbap again: rice, vegetables, and beef mixed together in a bowl with a side of beansprout soup and kimchi) and then shopped for about 45 minutes. I got some plastic drawers to serve as my “dresser,” more hangers, a drying rack for dishes, a mat for the bath tub so I don’t slip anymore (I’ve had a couple of close calls where I almost fell), a mat for the bathroom floor, and a space heater. I’ve been told that the heat in the apartment, though quite effective, is very expensive and that it’s cheaper to buy and use space heaters. I’ve had it on for the past hour or so, and it seems to work well enough. I’m not sure how effective it will be when it’s REALLY cold in here, but for now, it does the trick.
Tomorrow is Monday, and this week will be a little bit different for us because we don’t have any groups coming and staying the full week; it’s various groups coming and leaving on different days. None of us know exactly what we’ll be doing this week, but hey, I’ve come to expect the unexpected! I say, BRING IT ON! 🙂